Caseg Fraith Trip, 15-17 Nov 2019

Author: Simon W

Friday 15th November heralded the start of the third of this term’s ever-anticipated hillwalking expeditions. Compasses were set to West-North-West, Snowdonia our prospect for the weekend. A staggered journey through Friday evening headlights conjured such marvels of the South West as Birmingham and Telford, before the sinuous embrace of the A5 drew us nearer to the fabled Caseg Fraith, deep in the Welsh countryside. The border may have glided seamlessly past, but such village names as Glyndyfrdwy, Cerrigydrudion and Cefn-brith spoke true - this was no England.. As we approached our destination, moonlit snow-capped hills appeared ahead, putting one in mind of the final lines of Walter de la Mare’s poem ‘Snow’:

‘A marvel of light, Whose verge of radiance seems Frontier of paradise, The bourne of dreams.’

The group arose early on Saturday morning for walks to Snowdon, as well as more local hikes. The autumnal colours infused the landscape, rich in russets and golds. Endless rills, trickles and occasional unplanned splashes evinced a thoroughly saturated terrain, which would prove too much for some people's shoes. Those seeking an alternative to Yr Wyddfa, opted for a circular walk from Capel Curig, a short drive from the bunkhouse. An initial ascent to Llyn Cowlyd reservoir afforded a grand outlook over a rolling, treeless landscape, with cascading waters rushing past. A brief stop at the 1921 dam gave those whose feet had had better mornings a chance to divert. For the most part, the walkers continued. The path became more covert, and after fording several streams and swinging between large, nigh-on decomposed trees (Oliver N even found an animal skeleton, pristine), we found our way to Llyn Geirionydd, on the edge of the Gwydyr Forest. Fields of sheep gave way to horses, and finally to black sheep, prompting Anna B to speculate which was the black sheep of the family. A latent sheep geneticist was surely among our number?

That evening, with tales of the day being excitedly exchanged, cooking began, and a session of singing ensued, of which Schoenberg would have been proud. Despite valiant attempts by Tom W, who played his guitar, and Chris K, who played the penny whistle, disharmony reigned.

Having had a good walk the day before and needing to return to the bunkhouse for a 3 o’clock departure, it seemed sensible to take it easier on the Sunday. A small but loyal band of three headed for nearby Capel Curig, the forest and, crucially, the pub. A pint in front of a blazing fire and good conversation was a very enjoyable way to conclude the weekend’s activities. So tranquil was the atmosphere in the car on the return to Cambridge that, unintentionally, it became a direct run, door-to-door in four and a half hours. Thanks to all who organised, cooked, ferried, guided and otherwise contributed to a convivial and companionable weekend.

Trip List: Oliver N, Peter M, Marton G, Aisling K, Sarah M, Chris K, Ben T, Sophie M, Simon W, Sam C, Fiona D, Freya S, Ren O, Daryl Y, Alix R, Ben H, Anouk R, Svenja M, Hansini M, Anna B, Jeff F, Mario D, Jane O, Michal B, Scott E, Lise S, Mohamed E, Tom W, Rachel E, Lea D, Sam C, Sarah B, Vassilis G, Emily M, Julia Z, Johannes J, Liam N,

Simon W